Into the Dark Forest
by Jeanine Fricke

"She’s like a sister to me. I can’t let her go. Not yet."

Since childhood, Olivia Clayton and Alyssa Walton have been the best of friends. Despite distance and personal losses along the way, the bond between the two has remained strong—that is until Alyssa fights for her life after getting hit by a pickup truck on her birthday. Olivia, determined to prove that someone intentionally tried to kill Alyssa, befriends the local sheriff, Shel, in order to find her friend’s would-be murderer.

Fricke does a seamless job interweaving the backstory of Alyssa and Olivia’s friendship into the current story. Each backstory compliments and effortlessly transitions to the next scene in the current-day, providing context and depth to the friends and the story itself. Alyssa and Olivia are relatable on a level that makes the reader think that each of these women could be anyone’s next door neighbor or dear childhood friend. The author accomplishes this particularly through the dialogue between the women and even the sheriff. Whether it be corny banter or expressions of concern, it all sounds natural, like the character is having that conversation with the reader.

The author has made the decision to tell the story from multiple viewpoints, including those of the antagonists, a move that removes some of the mystery of what will happen next but which still creates a layer of taut suspense. Falling clearly in the cozy mystery genre, this engaging novel is set in Montana. It is romantic, light-hearted, and paced well. This story will appeal to those who want a light and fast read that will keep them guessing.

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